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Samuel Barber

Biography

Born: 1910   Died: 1981   Country: USA   Period: 20th Century
An open-hearted yet tough romantic, Samuel Barber was one of the few twentieth century American composers to fight for the primacy of lyricism. In his last decades he seemed to be losing the battle, but by the end of the century Barber had posthumously become one of America's most widely performed and recorded composers. In particular, his emotive Violin Concerto and Adagio for Strings have gained a popularity exceeded only by certain works of Read more Aaron Copland.

Barber entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1924, where he met future opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti; the two would become lifelong lovers. Barber was an able pianist and a baritone of some talent, but he was an even more precocious composer. His 1933 Curtis graduation piece, the spirited School for Scandal Overture, has become a beloved concert opener.

Barber developed into America's most enduring composer of art songs; most popular is his tender setting for soprano and chamber orchestra of James Agee's Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Barber had unerring taste in texts, and his literary interests led him to compose some allusive short orchestral pieces. Yet he was particularly adept at writing abstract works, such as Music for a Scene from Shelley. Many of these are in large forms: two symphonies, one string quartet (from which was drawn the Adagio for Strings, first popularized by Arturo Toscanini), an ambitious piano sonata, and one concerto each for violin, cello, and piano. While following traditional formats, they are propelled by a dramatic expressivity that hadn't been fashionable since Sibelius. Equally direct in their emotional content are his three Essays for Orchestra, the second being the best crafted and most acclaimed.

Barber would have seemed an ideal composer for the stage, but he had limited success in that realm. Medea, a 1947 dance score for Martha Graham, has found greater longevity in orchestral excerpts. His 1958 Vanessa garnered him the first of two Pulitzer Prizes (the second was for his Piano Concerto), but, like most other American operas, it quickly dropped out of sight. Barber wrote Anthony and Cleopatra to open the new Metropolitan Opera House in 1966, but critical reaction was so hostile that he produced very little during his remaining 15 years. Barber was too conservative to be fashionable; his harmony could be astringent, but his tonality remained secure, his rhythms were strong and clear, and he was not above writing a good melody. Read less
The American Masters - Barber, Corigliano, Bates / Anne Akiko Meyers
Release Date: 09/30/2014   Label: eOne  
Catalog: 7791   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: Horizon / Barra, Golden, Arioso Wind Quintet, San Diego CO
Release Date: 06/27/1995   Label: Koch International Classics  
Catalog: 7206   Number of Discs: 1
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Barber: The Songs / Studer, Hampson, Browning, Emerson Quartet
Release Date: 10/12/2004   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 000338002   Number of Discs: 2
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Barber: Antony And Cleopatra / Badea, Hinds, Wells
Release Date: 12/08/1992   Label: New World Records  
Catalog: 80322   Number of Discs: 2
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Kirov Classics - Chopiniana, Petrushka, Barber's Adagio, Etc
Release Date: 07/30/2002   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 86   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11

Browse 26-50 of 212 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Essential American Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27851 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Louis M. Gottschalk,  Stephen Foster,  Edward MacDowell,  Scott Joplin  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Pennario,  Salli Terri,  Molly Mason,  Thomas Hampson  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Leonard Slatkin,  Neil Richardson,  John McGlinn  ... 
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  • 27.
    Amstel Tracks Now! / Amstel Quartet
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72534 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Guillermo Lago,  Johannes Brahms,  Michael Nyman,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amstel Quartet
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  • 28.
    American Stringbook / Dogma Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Audiomax   Catalog: 9121717 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Diamond,  Samuel Barber,  Arthur Foote,  William Schuman
    Conductor:  Matthew Gurewitsch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Do.gma Chamber Orchestra
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  • 29.
    Masterworks
    Label: Inner Knot   Catalog: 677787 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Samuel Barber,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Tony Levin,  California Guitar Trio,  Fareed Haque
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  California Guitar Trio
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  • 30.
    Piping Hot - Organ Works From Lichfield Cathedral
    Label: Regent   Catalog: 210 Release Date: 03/13/2012  
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Joseph Bonnet,  César Franck,  Louis Vierne  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Scriven
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  • 31.
    Classical Hits Of The Cinema
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 30756 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gustav Mahler,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Frank Peter Zimmermann,  Piotr Anderszewski,  Christian Zacharias
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Lorin Maazel,  Andrew Litton,  Piotr Anderszewski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 32.
    The Most Essential Classical Music In Movies
    Label: X5   Catalog: 111 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Claude Debussy,  Carl Orff,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Henrik Mawe,  Jose Perez,  Klemens Schnorr
    Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner,  David Parry,  Heribert Beissel,  Hanspeter Gmür
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  • 33.
    Two Souls - Barber, Khachaturian / Mikhail Simonyan,  Kristjan Jarvi
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001617002 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aram Khachaturian,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Mikhail Simonyan
    Conductor:  Kristjan Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 34.
    50 Greatest Pieces Of Classical Music / London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 105 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Pieter Schoeman,  Finghin Collins,  Craig Ogden
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 35.
    The 50 Darkest Pieces Of Classical Music
    Label: X5 Music Group   Catalog: 108 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Edvard Grieg,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Ponti,  Finghin Collins,  Roland Pöntinen,  Emmy Berhey  ... 
    Conductor:  Volke Schmidt-Gertenbach,  Heribert Beissel,  David Parry,  James DePreist  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moyzes String Quartet,  Camerata Antonio Lucio,  Capella Istropolitana  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 36.
    Essential Strings
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94919 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Luigi Boccherini,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Georges Armand,  Jean-Patrice Brosse,  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Georges Armand,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jerzy Maksymiuk  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Berlin Philharmonic Cellists
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  • 37.
    Walton, Barber: Violin Concertos / Bowes, Swensen, Malmo Opera Orchestra
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 238 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Thomas Bowes
    Conductor:  Joseph Swensen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Malmö Opera Orchestra
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  • 38.
    Marriner & The Academy - 20th-Century Classics [10-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001553402 Release Date: 05/24/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  Heinrich Baermann  ... 
    Performer:  Jack Brymer,  John Ogdon,  John Wilbraham,  Michael Laird  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 39.
    Great American Showpieces
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 48952 Release Date: 05/17/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Eduardo Mata
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  • 40.
    Live - Barber, Strauss, Mahler / Salerno-Sonnenberg, New Century CO
    Label: Nss Music   Catalog: 10 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Richard Strauss,  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Century Chamber Orchestra
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  • 41.
    Barber: Complete Orchestral Works / Alsop, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8506021 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Stephane Rancourt,  Louise Winter,  Lesley Craigie,  Roderick Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 42.
    Majesties: The Great Organ Of Washington National Cathedral
    Label: Loft Recordings   Catalog: 1114 Release Date: 09/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  Seth Bingham,  Herbert Howells,  Sir William Walton  ... 
    Performer:  Scott Dettra
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  • 43.
    Barbara Hendricks Sings Bach, Barber & Copland
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 29355 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Barbara Hendricks,  Maurice Murphy,  Håkan Hardenberger,  Eckart Haupt  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Peter Schreier
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  • 44.
    Classical Chill: The Romantic Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578009-10 Release Date: 08/31/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ottorino Respighi,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Ernst Ottensamer,  Benjamin Frith,  Ilya Kaler,  János Bálint  ... 
    Conductor:  Anthony Bramall,  Jaroslav Krcek,  Enrique Bátiz,  Johannes Wildner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Budapest Rossini Ensemble
    CD: $19.99
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  • 45.
    Guido Cantelli Conducts American Masters
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 419 Release Date: 07/27/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Walter Piston,  Paul Creston
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
    CD: $13.99
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  • 46.
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1309 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Pete Moore,  Bernard Herrmann,  David Raksin,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Performer:  Gareth Williams,  Mark Ayres
    Conductor:  Evan Jolly,  Paul Bateman,  Nic Raine,  Bill Ashton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Ensemble
    CD: $59.49
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  • 47.
    50 Best Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 57517 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Wayne Marshall,  David Bell,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Henriette Puig-Roget  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Franz Welser-Möst,  André Cluytens  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 48.
    The United States Army Strings
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: ALT61372 Release Date: 05/18/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Desmond,  Jay Ungar,  John Lennon,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  Marlisa Woods,  Laura Knutson,  Manuel Bobenrieth,  Emily Leader  ... 
    Conductor:  Jim Keene
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  • 49.
    Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7; Barber: Adagio / Toscanini
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 409 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Samuel Barber
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $13.99
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  • 50.
    Adagio - Samuel Barber 100th Anniversary
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 87286 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  Thomas Allen,  Roger Vignoles,  Judith LeClair,  Joseph Robinson  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Endellion String Quartet,  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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